USDA Agents Raid and Seize Dogs at Beagle-Breeder-for Testing Envigo

USDA agents and other authorities raided beagle-breeder-for-testing Envigo’s Cumberland facility and seized 145 dogs that were in “acute distress” on Wednesday, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Christopher Kavanaugh.
The attorney is representing the U.S. against Envigo, alleging that the breeder is violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

“In less than a year, the company has amassed over 60 citations for non-compliance with the AWA, which have affected thousands of beagles. More than half of those citations were deemed ‘critical’ or ‘direct,’ the most serious types of AWA citation,” the complaint states. ” As relevant here, a ‘critical’ noncompliance is one that has a ‘serious or severe adverse effect on the health and well-being of the animal[s].’ [….] A ‘direct’ noncompliance is a critical noncompliance that is having a serious or severe adverse effect on the health and well-being of the animal at the time of the inspection.”

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Circuit Court Dismisses One of the Convictions Against Father Arrested at June 2021 Loudoun School Board Meeting

The Loudoun County Circuit Court dismissed one of the convictions Scott Smith was facing after being arrested at a June 2021 Loudoun County School Board meeting. Smith, represented by State Senator Bill Stanley’s (R-Franklin) legal firm, asked the judge to recuse Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj from the case; a written opinion from the judge is pending after Monday’s court appearance.

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Youngkin Signs Bills Tightening Restrictions on Breeders-for-Testing as New USDA Report Reveals Envigo Euthanized Dogs Without Anesthetic

RICHMOND, Virginia – Flanked by beagles and legislators, Governor Glenn Youngkin signed five bills tightening regulations on dog and cat breeders, a reaction to dramatic reports at beagle breeder-for-medical-testing Envigo, but a full ban on breeding for testing faltered in February.

“This is an important signing ceremony. And it’s important because it signifies how we’re supposed to work together,” Youngkin said from the steps of the Executive Mansion on Monday. “Behind me represents a very diverse group of legislators, legislators that oftentimes find themselves on different sides of issues. And this particular set of circumstances brought people together to do the right thing, common ground, reaching across the aisle working constructively to get things done in a comprehensive way.”

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General Assembly Passes Dog-Breeder-for-Testing Oversight Bills; Sen. Stanley Celebrates with Puns

Both the House of Delegates and the Senate unanimously passed several of Senator Bill Stanley’s (R-Franklin) bills on Monday and Tuesday to regulate dog breeders, the result of bipartisan work spurred by dramatic reports at a Virginia beagle-breeder-for-medical-testing Envigo. The bills are now headed to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s desk. An outright ban on the practice sponsored by Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) is set to die in the House Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee after being passed by the Senate. Oversight bills from Bosyko and Senator David Marsden (D-Fairfax) are also doomed in the same committee.

“I want to thank all of you for the hard work that y’all did. We had the Envigo incident and Senator Boysko, Senator Marsden, Senator [Barbara Favola (D-Arlington)], Senator [Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell)], Delegates [Rob Bell (R-Albemarle)] and [Bobby Orrock (R-Carolina)] worked very hard to make sure that we’re going to hold those people that breed dogs, especially beagles, for scientific purposes, accountable,” Stanley said.

In one of his floor-speech comedy routines, on Monday, Stanley exhorted senators to adopt beagles rescued from the facility. Stanley said that there were 480 beagles that were overbred during the pandemic and that Envigo was allowing them to be adopted instead of euthanized. Half of those have already been adopted.

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State Sen. Chase Presents Data About 2020 Election to Virginia Attorney General Miyares’ Office; Republicans and Democrats Kill Her Effort to Fund a Full Forensic Audit of the Election

Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) told senators Thursday that she had delivered information about the 2020 election to Attorney General Jason Miyares’ office on Tuesday. She pushed several budget amendment that would have spent millions of dollars on investigations both into the 2020 election and on future elections, but her amendments received vigorous opposition from Democrats and feeble support from Republicans.

“We presented quite a bit of data and information, our team did, to the attorney general’s office the day before yesterday, and one of their comments was that they need more time and more resources to do that investigation,” Chase said during debate over budget amendments.

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State Senate Gives Virginia Gov. Youngkin Another Education Win, Passes Sexually Explicit Classroom Material Notification Bill

Wednesday was a good day for Governor Glenn Youngkin, who received two major education policy wins from the Democrat-controlled Virginia Senate, which passed Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s (R-Henrico) bill requiring parental notification of sexually explicit instructional material in public school classes. Senators Lynwood Lewis Jr. (D-Accomack) and Montgomery “Monty” Mason (D-Williamsburg) voted with all the Republicans to pass the bill 20 to 18.

Dunnavant said, “Senate Bill 656 is a bill that we discussed and passed out of this body before that seeks to inform parents when controversial, sexually explicit material is being discussed in the classroom. It has nothing to do with libraries. It has an enactment clause that specifically protects books and ensures that it does not censor books.”

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USDA Report Details More Violations at Beagle Breeder-For-Research Envigo; General Assembly Legislators Introduce 11 Bills to Regulate or Ban Practices at the Facility

Seven legislators have introduced 11 animal welfare bills in the Virginia General Assembly after investigations by PETA and the USDA found troubling conditions at a Cumberland beagle breeder-for-research. A newly-published report of an October 2021 site visit to the Envigo facility lists violations including staff providing medication without veterinarian approval, dangerous kennels blamed for deaths of multiple puppies, and buildup of grime and feces. Poor record-keeping was blamed for untreated medical conditions, unrecorded deaths, and an inability to determine cause of death in other cases.

“There continue to be severe staffing shortages and currently there are approximately 32 employees at the facility, with only 17 staff members directly responsible for all husbandry, daily observations, and medical treatments for almost 5000 dogs,” the report states.

“Mortality records show that from 2 Aug 2021 to 3 Oct 2021, nine dogs […] were injured from having a body part (such as a limb or tail) pulled through the wall of the kennel by a dog in an adjacent kennel and bitten. The exact injuries varied in each case, however regardless of whether it was a minor or substantial injury, these nine dogs were subsequently euthanized. Dogs sustaining injuries from being pulled through the enclosure wall have experienced physical harm and unnecessary pain,” the report states.

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Virginia Sens. Saslaw, Howell Help Republicans Kill Sen. Morrissey’s Parole Expansion Bill

Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax) and Senator Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) helped Republicans kill Senator Joe Morrissey’s (D-Richmond) SB 109, which would have expanded parole eligibility from people who were juveniles when sentenced to people under 21. Parole has been a key target of Virginia Republicans and tough-on-crime policy is a priority for them as they try to roll back criminal justice reforms passed by Democrats in previous years. Saslaw’s Thursday vote came the day after a committee meeting where he appeared flexible on instituting some mandatory minimums, also a Republican goal.

“Senate Bill 109 expands juvenile parole. During the 2020 General Assembly session, you all recall Senator Marsden’s bill that was Senate Bill 103 that allowed individuals who were sentenced as juveniles, and who have served 20 or more years, to be eligible for parole. That’s now the law. Senate Bill 109 expands  the definition of juvenile and it changes it to youthful offender, which allows individuals who were 20 years of age or younger and who have served twenty years to become parole eligible,” Morrissey explained to the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 17.

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Skill Games Can Turn Back on in Virginia While Lawsuit Against Ban Proceeds

Skill games operators in Virginia can turn their games back on for now, while a lawsuit over Virginia’s skill games ban proceeds. On Monday, Greenville Circuit Court Judge Louis Lerner issued a temporary injunction in Sadler v. Northam.

“We had a great victory yesterday, but our fight is not over. The injunction allows skill game operators to turn their machines back on immediately. It is now up to elected officials in Virginia to craft a permanent solution that supports small businesses like Mr. Sadler’s,” said Stanley Law Group spokesperson Autumn Johnson.

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Virginia State Sen. Stanley Defending Mattaponi Tribe Members Against Chief in Dispute over Tribal Leadership

Senator Bill Stanley (R-Franklin) and former Attorney General Tony Troy are defending 13 members of the Mattaponi tribe; Chief Mark Custalow brought charges of trespassing against the members after an October 30 protest.

Tribe members left notices of grievances on the doors of all the tribal leaders. The members say leadership is not allowing women to vote in tribal matters, and that their protest was peaceful and done under the eye of the county sheriff.

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Juvenile Court Finds Sufficient Evidence in Loudoun School Assault Case

A juvenile court judge found sufficient evidence to sustain charges of a May sexual assault in a Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS)  bathroom, allegedly committed by a “gender fluid” student. The judge’s decision in the Monday trial is equivalent to a guilty verdict, The Washington Post reported.

“We are relieved that justice was served today for the Smith’s daughter.  This horrible incident has deeply affected the Smith family, and they are grateful for today’s outcome,” Senator Bill Stanley (R-Franklin) said in a Monday press release. “No one should have to endure what this family has endured, and now their focus is completely upon their daughter’s health and safety as she progresses forward with her life.  She is a very smart and strong young woman, and she is deeply loved by her parents.”

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Senator Stanley Representing Family Against Loudoun County Public Schools in Alleged Assault

Senator Bill Stanley’s (R-Franklin) legal practice is representing the Smith family in their lawsuit against Loudoun County Public Schools over the school’s failures in an alleged sexual assault.

“The facts are that a male student claiming to be ‘gender fluid’ was permitted to enter the girls’ bathroom on May 28 and sexually assault our daughter. Making matters worse, the school system repeatedly failed to protect her thereafter. Then, they concealed the sexual assault from the public while considering formalizing a bathroom access policy that would have – and now has – increased the likelihood of sexual assaults like these. As a result, our daughter and our family has suffered, and continue to suffer, from the very real consequences of a policy that endangers the safety of every student,” the victim’s parents said in a Thursday press release.

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Virginia Court Denies Demurrer, Allows Sadler’s Skill Games Ban Lawsuit to Go Forward

A Greensville County Circuit Court judge declined to dismiss NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler’s lawsuit over Virginia’s recent skill games ban. In a hearing Tuesday, the court denied a demurrer from the Office of the Attorney General and ordered an expedited discovery process so that a hearing on an emergency injunction can be held in early December.

“We are grateful the Court was able to see through the Attorney General’s latest and last-ditch attempt to avoid a trial in this case,” said Senator Bill Stanley (R-Franklin), attorney for Sadler and Sadler Brothers Oil Company.  “Mr. Sadler’s lawsuit seeks to protect his constitutional rights and the rights of hundreds of Virginia’s small and family-owned businesses.  We’re looking forward to December 6, when we hope the injustice and inequity of the skill games ban will be seen by the Court for what it is.”

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Gubernatorial Candidates Use Ads and Political Appearances to Boost Enthusiasm

Gubernatorial candidates Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe have launched competing ads. A McAuliffe ad links Youngkin’s calls for election integrity to Trump’s claims about the 2020 election, while the Youngkin ad fact-checks McAuliffe’s recitation of recent COVID-19 case numbers.

“On at least three separate days – September 28, September 29, and October 7 – McAuliffe claimed there had recently been 8,000 cases in Virginia, a gross inflation that amounts to nearly three to four times the actual number of cases,” a Youngkin press release explains.

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Poised to Miss First Deadline, Virginia Redistricting Commission Collapses

The Virginia Redistricting Commission collapsed Friday afternoon while facing a Sunday deadline to complete final maps to present to the General Assembly. The commission failed to break through partisan deadlocks on which drafts to use as a starting point, the latest in weeks of perfect party-line splits in the habitually deadlocked commission. In despair, three citizen members walked out of the meeting breaking quorum and leaving questions about the future of the commission.

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State Senator Bill Stanley Joins Virginia Redistricting Commission, Commission Discusses Use of Incumbent Addresses, and Barker Proposes Map That Protects His Seat

Senator Bill Stanley (R-Franklin) is the newest addition to the Virginia Redistricting Commission. His predecessor Senator Stephen Newman (R-Bedford) resigned after the commission’s busy schedule for the next two months was announced.

“I know he put a lot of effort, time, and passion into this commission. He resigned shortly after we released our wonderful meetings. So I don’t know if [Co-Chair Greta Harris (D)] and I scared him away or what,” Co-Chair Mackenzie Babichenko (R) joked.

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Heretick Representing Another Lawsuit Battling Virginia Skill Games Ban

Delegate Steve Heretick (D-Portsmouth) is representing plaintiffs in another lawsuit seeking an end to a ban on skill games in Virginia. On September 1, Roanoke-area convenience store operator Falu Patel filed suit claiming that the recently-enact ban violates his constitutional rights; Patel is represented by Heretick and Virginia Beach attorney Mike Joynes.

“It is appalling to me that here in the year 2021, we are still seeing affirmative acts of discrimination through the legislative process. It is clear from the statements made by the legislators who pushed the skill games ban agenda that SB 971 had one purpose – to discriminate against Asian American and African American convenience store owners who had these legal gaming devices in their establishments,” Joynes and Heretick said in a press release.

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Virginia Senate Republicans Angry After Democrats Interview Court of Appeals Candidates in Private

RICHMOND, Virginia – Republican legislators say that Democrats are leaving them out of the process of vetting candidates to fill eight Virginia Court of Appeals seats. Next week, legislators are expected to appoint judges to the newly-expanded court. But Democrats privately interviewed the candidates on Wednesday and only intend to advance eight candidates to be approved by the General Assembly, as first reported by The Virginia Mercury and The Richmond Times-Dispatch. On Thursday, Republican and Democratic senators went back-and-forth on the Senate floor about the process.

“I am confident that there were no Republicans who were invited to participate in those interviews and I just want to point out that it seems to be a little bit of a theme that has developed during the course of this session,” Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) said. “There is way too much business that’s being conducted behind closed doors, out of the view of the public.”

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As Lawsuits Proceed, Virginia’s Skill Games Ban Remains in Effect

Skill games in Virginia remain closed as two lawsuits fighting to allow the slot-like electronic games despite a recent law banning them. On Friday, Norfolk Circuit Court Judge Junius Fulton III denied a request for an emergency injunction in one of the lawsuits that would have temporarily allowed the games to reopen while the lawsuit proceeds, according to Courthouse News.

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Northam Acts on 552 General Assembly Bills from 2021 Sessions

Governor Ralph Northam announced the signing of 14 bills on Wednesday, March 31, which was a deadline for the Governor to take action on legislation passed in the 2021 General Assembly sessions. According to his announcement, took action on 552 bills with no vetoes, although he sent some back to the General Assembly with amendments.

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Virginia General Assembly Kills Bill to Require Equal Educational Opportunities Across All Schools

After passing in the Senate 34 to one, Senator Bill Stanley’s (R-Franklin County) constitutional amendment to require equitable educational opportunities in all Virginia schools was killed by the House of Delegates Privileges and Elections Committee. Virginia’s constitution requires that free school be provided for all school-aged children. Stanley’s bill SJ 275 would have added a requirement that those schools include “equitable educational opportunities” for all school-aged children.

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General Assembly Votes to Make Virginia First Southern State to Abolish Death Penalty

The Virginia General Assembly passed a death penalty repeal on Monday. Governor Ralph Northam is expected to sign the bills, which would make Virginia the first state in the South to ban capital punishment. Advocates have argued that the death penalty is vulnerable to wrongful conviction, is expensive, cruel, and applied unfairly, but opponents say some of the most heinous crimes require a death penalty to make sure the criminal doesn’t get free. During the 2021 session, House Republicans have emphasized the names of victims of particularly serious crimes, who they say are being ignored by Democrats.

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From Same-Sex Marriage to Equal Education Opportunities, Seven Constitutional Amendments Are Moving Through Virginia Legislature

The Virginia General Assembly considered over a dozen constitutional amendments in its two chambers this session; seven of them have been passed in either the House or the Senate. Last week, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Norment (R-James City) criticized the high number.

“I recognize that times change,” he said on the Senate floor. “I recognize that Virginia has changed and I recognize that there is a new cadre of legislators who have a different perspective on what the policies of the commonwealth should be.”

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Legislation Abolishing Death Penalty Advanced by Virginia Senate Committee

Legislation to abolish the death penalty in the Commonwealth of Virginia was advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday morning.

Introduced by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax), Senate Bill 1165 was reported out of the committee by a vote of 10-4, mostly along party lines with Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County), chief co-patron on the measure, the only Republican who voted in support.

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